Realizing God’s Dream: Spirituality, Scripture, Stewardship
At October’s 52nd Annual Arizona Diocesan Convention, the Rt. Rev. Kirk Stevan Smith, Bishop of Arizona, and staff provoked dreamy metaphors that inspired us to dream as God dreams. How and what does God dream for us? At the convention, we attended workshops, business meetings, and presentations designed to wake us up spiritually, through scripture, and directed toward stewardship.
At Friday’s pre-convention workshops, one packed conference room invited attendees to learn about how a convention works and who was responding to God’s call for them to serve in Diocesan Council and Standing Committee leadership roles. In that intimate space, we had many opportunities to hear people from all across the Diocese voice their questions and concerns about resolutions and the Diocesan budget.
Pumped up by hip-hop/rap music offered by Joel Joa, we gained a sense that this convention would be empowering. Bishop Kirk expounded on his vision for the diocese as a networking agency, designed to connect parishes and resources to the work of the gospel.
The keynote speaker, the Most Rev. Frank Griswold, invited us to listen with the ears of our heart to the ways that we are rooted and grounded in our relationship with Christ. He reminded us how our Baptismal Covenant is integral to who we are; that just as we are marked with the Holy Spirit, so are we given capacity to do the work we have been given to do. His spiritual talk set the tone for our living into God’s dream.
In the afternoon, we each attended two sets of workshop sessions that focused on the three approaches to realizing God’s dream: spirituality, scripture, and stewardship. In the evening, after dinner, we applauded as our Rector, John Kitagawa, was named an honorary Canon of the Diocese. Congratulations, John!
On Saturday, convention opened with a Eucharist, at which Bishop Smith preached about how God keeps dreaming for us and with us. We shared communion accompanied by the choir of Church of the Nativity, our newest parish in the diocese. The offering plate collected over $4,000 for NetsForLife.
After voting for the candidates nominated for Diocesan Council and Standing Committee (to which St. Philippian Raymond Dewey was elected), we discussed and voted on the budget and other business items. Surprisingly, we learned that the Diocese would be rebating to each parish a portion of the money sent for Diocesan funds, with the idea that each parish will use it for Mission work. Our wardens and vestry members present were excited to hear about that!
We engaged in a meaningful, civil and thoughtful debate regarding a resolution to reaffirm criminal justice reform and oppose contracting for private prisons in Arizona. The manner of discussion was inspiring; we can disagree and still have meaningful dialogue.
Following final comments and words of gratitude by the Bishop, we adjourned until next year, October 18 and 19, 2013. Glory be to God!
—The Rev. Vicki K. Hesse